MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR RUMER HAVEN
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Hello! My name is Rumer Haven, and I write women’s fiction with romantic, historical, and paranormal elements.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
My latest release is a short story (“Revolve Her”) in the multi-author anthology Paperback Writers (https://amzn.to/2UQ4bUq). The entire collection was inspired by the music of the Beatles, and my story in particular plays on the song titles and lyrics of the album Revolver.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I’ve always loved ghost stories, so I simply write what I want to read! I’m also fascinated with the history of homes; I’ve lived in historical buildings that have made me curious about their previous inhabitants over the decades. Existing in the same space that someone else has before and having overlapping experiences lends itself perfectly to a ghost story—the ol’ “If these walls could talk” idea. So, I mainly use supernatural elements to link those experiences across time, making my stories more hauntingly human than horror.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I certainly researched the Beatles a lot! For song lyrics, of course, but also some of the inspiration behind those songs and the Revolver album in general. Basically, looking for opportunities to give homage here and there. I’ve also been studying tarot and crystal healing lately, so that informed the metaphysical aspects of the story. And in developing my characters with (I hope) sensitivity and authenticity, I explored certain aspects of racial, ethnic, and gender identity.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Truth be told, I don’t have a typical day! In addition to writing, I do freelance work, and every couple of months or so, I travel to the States to visit family for several weeks (I’m from Chicago but live in London). So, my environment and focus are continually shifting, which unfortunately disrupts my writing flow. I usually only set daily writing goals if I have a specific deadline; otherwise, it happens rather sporadically. But when I do write, it’s most often at my desk in London or at my parents’ dining room table in Chicago.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
Yes! Ever so slowly, I’m working on a new manuscript that will hopefully kick off a book series called The Hotel In-Spectres, about TV ghost hunters who investigate lodgings like hotels and B&Bs. The first installment will be The Byrd Haus, and the Roche Motel that features in my short story “Revolve Her” (in the Paperback Writers anthology) will have its own book later in the series. I also plan to publish a short-story anthology of my own in the next year, so we’ll see!
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I try not to overthink character names so that it doesn’t sound too forced, usually just going with the one that instinctively comes to mind when considering a certain character’s vibe. Now and then, though, I’ll use a name that has some sort of sentimental meaning—like in What the Clocks Know, where Margot is named after a cat I once owned, and her grandma is named after my mom’s nickname. My dad’s nickname appears, too, in Seven for a Secret. Things like that are just fun private Easter eggs. I do consider name meanings as well, though, if it can help validate my choice for a particular character and their dominant traits. And for historical stories, I research names appropriate for the time period and, from there, simply choose the ones that meet my fancy. Picking names for my latest story “Revolve Her” was particularly fun—and easy!—since I could take two straight from the Beatles’ Revolver album.
Where do your ideas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere, but I guess a common denominator is location, location, location. What the Clocks Know came to me after moving to London and taking many walks through a local Victorian cemetery. Seven for a Secret arose out of nostalgia for my old Chicago neighborhood. Coattails & Cocktails occurred to me while I toured the McCormick mansion at Cantigny in suburban Chicago. And the initial concept of “Revolve Her” was sparked by a trip to Sedona. So, a lot of times, it’s a physical place that ignites my imagination somehow, but it’s also been about periods of my life (like living single in my twenties or suffering depression in my thirties) or personal interests (like classic movies, murder mysteries, and all things metaphysical). An idea just sparks more ideas, and then somehow it all starts to gel together!
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I would actually love to write an adult choose-your-own-adventure book.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The first draft. Ugh. I have always preferred the revision stage because then you at least have the clay to mold. Creating the clay in the first place takes so much more discipline, and some days, I just don’t feel it. Filling a blank page can be such a slog—yet then again, there are also moments of magic when it feels like the story is dictating itself to you! Those are the bits that I’ll re-read during editing and almost don’t remember writing in the first place; they just click, and I hardly have to touch them afterwards. That alone is good incentive to just buckle down and keep drafting away!
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I like book trailers as fun little previews, and I do enjoy making them, though haven’t been taking the time to lately (eek). I hope to make more in the future, but in the meantime, you can find my first few trailers at my website’s “cinema” (https://www.rumerhaven.com/book-trailers) as well as my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/RumerHaven).
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
This will be the dopiest answer, but honestly, every accomplishment has pushed me to learn and grow, and I become truer and truer to myself with each one. So, it’s the cumulative (and ongoing) achievement that I’m pleased with more than any particular end in itself, if that makes sense—the journey not the destination, as they say.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Getting to indulge all of my own fancies! I get to research the things that interest me most and construct my own cozy worlds to curl up in for a while. And having the opportunity to share that with kindred spirits is such a bonus.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still writing! And editing and teaching in some capacity. I also expect to be living Stateside again by then, perhaps on the east coast in an old haunted house. 😉
Have you always liked to write?
I really have. I was that “Dear Diary” kid who constantly scribbled thoughts and poems into a journal, and I loved creative-writing assignments at school. I also entered writing contests every year in grade school and finally won in sixth grade.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
JUST. WRITE. Write your way through that crappy first draft. Write your way through the sting of rejection letters and negative feedback. Write to find your voice and your story, and write for the joy not the glory.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I was a high school English teacher before I became an author, and I’m currently a freelance fiction editor, so I would simply go on doing what I have been! I actually get as much if not more pleasure from helping others develop their craft, which is why I never want to focus on just my own writing.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do read them, but I don’t let the good ones go to my head or let the bad ones go to my heart. Readers are entitled to their own reading experience, and what they make of my stories is entirely up to them. I’m grateful for positive feedback and try to learn from the negative. It’s of course never easy seeing a critical review, but I just remind myself that I don’t like every book I read either and no story is ever going to please everyone. If my work resonates with even one other person, then I’m over the moon.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Marketing! Writing books is one thing, selling them quite another. I do not have mad marketing skillz, and self-promotion makes me so uncomfortable! I just write the stories that are in my head and heart; I want to put them out there for other people to discover in case they might like them, too, but I don’t want to force them on anyone with any expectation they’ll love what or how I write.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Why, sure! In The Byrd Haus, ghost hunters will be investigating the Otto Byrd Country Haus, a quaint and historic B&B. Due to a scheduling error, however, a murder-mystery dinner will also be taking place on the premises that night, which will hopefully make for both creepy and comical results! I recently shared an excerpt of my rough (emphasis on ROUGH) draft on my blog for an online scavenger hunt—just scroll to the bottom of the post to find it: https://bit.ly/2K8B3BV
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
As mentioned earlier, I basically write what I like to read. I just can’t seem to stick to one genre, though, preferring to combine them and avoid any strict formulas. So, each of my stories is typically a hybrid of historical, paranormal, and/or romantic fiction.
Where did your love of books come from?
I’m not exactly sure, but one of the earliest books I remember reading was Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand—about a bull who’d rather smell flowers than fight. Books have been my way of smelling the flowers ever since.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
Classic favorites include Daphne du Maurier and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but lately, I enjoy Kate Morton and Gillian Flynn.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Hmm…I’ve honestly never thought about it! But maybe either Lon or Ollie in Seven for a Secret. I just find Lon really endearing; he’s so flawed yet a sensitive soul worthy of redemption. And Ollie is creepy as hell, but I feel such sympathy for her and how different her life could’ve been. After writing “Revolve Her,” though, Ellie and Beverley have really worked their way into my heart as well!
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both, depending on the day. Not all writing sessions hit the sweet spot; some just have to be trudged through to get the plot from point A to B, or some are interrupted by a need to research or course-correct. And then there are those that just floooow. Those are the days that get me through the less-inspired ones.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I love losing myself in others’ stories, be they books or movies or TV shows, but sometimes I’m in so much awe of what someone else has created that I’m paralyzed with inferiority!
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
My weird brain can’t help but go the less conventional route. The stories come to me the way they do, and that’s how I write ’em; I can’t wedge them into any set of expectations, including my own! There’s nothing new under the sun, so it’s not that I believe what I write is super unique, but it is true to my own voice and thought, and I don’t know if I’d find as much joy in the process otherwise.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My sister is Nicki Elson (nickielson.com), who writes romance fiction with some of the most real and relatable characters I’ve seen in that genre. Her authentic and endearing approach to characterization has definitely inspired me, as did her path to publication in the first place! She’s been a role model my entire life, so her guidance and encouragement has been everything. I’m also good friends with paranormal authors Shani Struthers (www.shanistruthers.com) and Cherie Colyer (www.cheriecolyer.com), who both write such creative and atmospheric supernatural stories. I don’t seek to copy what they do in the genre—and they’re both way more prolific than I am!—but curling up with their books helps spark the spookiness and suspense in my own writing. Like my sister, they also provide such lovely empathy and support, keeping my morale up, which can be one of the biggest challenges of writing!
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Microwaved Panda would be my preference. But perhaps Sentimental Fool would be more straightforward. 😆
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Ask me anything about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Whatever the question, my answer will be overly enthusiastic and probably put an end to anyone asking me anything Buffy-related ever again.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
You’re so welcome! Thank you for this lovely opportunity.